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Afterfeast of the Entry of the Most Holy Mother of God into the Temple
Afterfeast of the Entry of the Most Holy Mother of God into the Temple

According to Holy Tradition, the Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple took place in the following manner. The parents of the Virgin Mary, Saints Joachim and Anna, praying for an end to their childlessness, vowed that if a child were born to them, they would dedicate it to the service of…

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Troparion & Kontakion
Great Martyr Catherine of Alexandria
Great Martyr Catherine of Alexandria

The Holy Great Martyr Catherine was the daughter of Constus, the governor of Alexandrian Egypt during the reign of the emperor Maximian (305-313). Living in the capital, the center of Hellenistic knowledge, and possessed of a rare beauty and intellect, Catherine received an excellent education,…

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Great Martyr Mercurius of Caesarea, in Cappadocia
Great Martyr Mercurius of Caesarea, in Cappadocia

The Holy Great Martyr Mercurius, a Scythian by descent, served as a soldier in the Roman army. The impious emperors Decius (249-251) and Valerian (253-259) issued a decree ordering all Roman citizens to worship the pagan gods, and condemning Christians to torture and death unless they obeyed the…

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Martyr Mercurius of Smolensk
Martyr Mercurius of Smolensk

The Holy Martyr Mercurius of Smolensk was a Slav by birth, probably from Moravia, the descendant of a princely line. Brought up in Orthodoxy, Saint Mercurius in zeal for the true Faith left his own native land for Russia, where he served in the army of the Prince of Smolensk. The saintly soldier…

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Venerable Mercurius the Faster of the Kiev Caves

Saint Mercurius of Kiev Caves pursued asceticism in the Farther Caves in the fourteenth century, and was strict in fasting. During his lifetime Saint Mercurius had a deep spiritual friendship with Saint Paisius, and when they died, they were buried in the same grave. The November 24 commemoration…

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Empress Augusta, Porphyrius the General, the 50 philosophers and the 200 Soldiers martyred with the Great Martyr Catherine
Empress Augusta, Porphyrius the General, the 50 philosophers and the 200 Soldiers martyred with the Great Martyr Catherine

As we read in the life of Saint Catherine, the Emperor Maximian ordered 50 of the Empire's most learned philosophers and rhetoricians to dispute with Great Martyr. As a result of her eloquent testimony, however, they embraced the Christian faith and were summarily burned alive by Maximian's order,…

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Virgin Martyr Mastridia of Alexandria

The Nun Mastridia lived in Alexandria. She made a vow of virginity and she dwelt in unceasing prayer, keeping the fasts and keeping silence. The pure life of the holy virgin was beset by trials. A certain young man, attracted to her with impure desire, began to pursue her so that she could not even…

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Venerable Simon, Abbot of Soiga Monastery, Vologda

Saint Simon of Soiga belonged to the Komel disciples of Saint Sergius of Radonezh. He was born at Solvychegodsk, and was tonsured at the Komel monastery under Saint Cornelius (May 19). He passed through his obediences with such ascetics and disciples of Cornelius of Komel as Gennadius of Liubimsk…

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The Prologue
November 24th

1. The Holy and Great Martyr Katharine.

The daughter of King Constus, she lived with her mother in Alexandria after her father's death. Her mother was secretly a Christian and, through her spiritual father, brought Katharine to the Christian faith. In a vision, St Katharine received a ring from the Lord Jesus Himself as a sign of her betrothal to Him. This ring remains on her finger to this day. Katharine was greatly gifted by God, exceptionally well-educated in Greek philosophy, medicine, rhetoric and logic, and added great physical beauty to this. When the wicked Emperor Maxentius offered sacrifice to idols and ordered everyone to do the same, St Katharine came with daring before him and denounced his idolatrous errors. The Emperor, seeing that she surpassed him in wisdom and leaming, summoned fifty of the wisest men, to dispute with her about faith and put her to shame, but Katharine was wiser than they, and put them to shame. The furious Emperor commanded that all fifty wise men be burned. These wise men, at St Katharine's prayers, all confessed the name of Christ at the moment of death, and proclaimed themselves Christians. When the martyr was in prison, she brought Porphyrius the general, with two hundred of his soldiers, to the Faith, and also the Empress, Augusta-Vasilissa. They all suffered for Christ. At St Katharine's martyrdom, an angel of God appeared to her, stopping and breaking the wheel on which she was being tortured, and after that the Lord Christ Himself appeared to her, strengthening her. After many tortures, Katharine was beheaded with the sword at the age of eighteen, on November 24th, 310. Milk flowed from her body in place of blood. Her wonderworking relics are preserved on Sinai.

2. The Holy and Great Martyr Mercurius.

When the Emperor Decius was once making war on the barbarians, there was in the army the commander of an Armenian regiment called the Martesians. This commander was called Mercurius. In the battle, an angel of God appeared to Mercurius, put a sword in his hand and told him that he would overcome the enemy. Mercurius displayed a wonderful courage, mowing the enemy down like grass with his sword. After this glorious victory, the Emperor made him supreme commander of his army, but some jealous men denounced him to the Emperor as a Christian. Mercurius did not deny this before the Emperor, but openly acknowledged it. He was most terribly tortured: cut with knives in strips and burned in a furnace, but an angel of God appeared in the prison and healed him. Finally the Emperor pronounced the sentence that General Mercurius be beheaded with the sword in Cappadocia. When they beheaded him, his body became as white as snow, and from it there arose a wonderful, incense-like fragrance. Many of the sick were healed by his wonderworking relics. This glorious soldier of Christ suffered for the Faith some time between 251 and 259.

3. The Holy Maiden Mastridia.

She lived in Alexandria and led a solitary life of prayer and handwork. A young man became consumed with lustful passion towards her, and pestered her incessantly. Determined not to sin against God, and seeing that it would not be easy to shake off this dissolute youth, St Mastridia once asked him what it was in her that most attracted him. He replied: 'Your eyes!', and Mastridia took the needle with which she was sewing and put out her eyes. Thus she preserved her own peace and the young man's soul, who repented deeply and became a monk.

Author's note: This Mastridia is apparently not the same as the one who is commemorated on February 7th. The latter is from Jerusalem, while this one is from Alexandria. The latter fled from scandal to the desert, and this one put out her eyes.

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Christ the Saviour Orthodox Church